Blended families among us

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The Swartz blended family Image Credit: Swartz family

We are surrounded by countless numbers of friends and family members who come from blended homes. What is a blended home, you ask? Let’s understand the dynamic a bit more.

Avery Riley with her new family on vacation. Image Credit: Jensen Family
Avery Riley with her new family on vacation. Image Credit: Jensen family

According to Oxford English Dictonary, “a blended family is a family consisting of a couple and their children from this and all previous relationships.”

Blended families are more common than we think.

According to Brandon Gaille, CEO of the marketing and design firm ByReputation, “Every one in three Americans is either a step-parent, a step-child, or has some other form of a blended family in some way.”

Sabrina Swartz of Oregon and Avery Riley of Washington, both studying social work, shared their firsthand experiences growing up in a blended home.

Avery Riley's adopted family. Photo Credit:
Avery Riley’s adopted family. Photo Credit: Brooke Ashley
Sweet cheesing from Sabrina Swartz
Sweet cheesing from Sabrina Swartz Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Riley originally came from a family of six. In 2017, she was adopted by the Jensen family, consisting of five siblings and two parental figures. Swartz comes from a family of 16 consisting of 12 siblings and four parental figures: four biological siblings, six step siblings and two half-siblings.

Sabrina takes a moment to ponder her life at the temple.
Sabrina takes a moment to ponder her life at the temple. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

“It’s like having a bunch of new friends,” Swartz said. “But another really hard thing is you grow up with your family and their sets of values, … but when somebody moves into your home and your life, you have to mold with what they grew up with and what you grew up with.”

Misunderstandings and miscommunication are a big part of life, but they can especially be amplified in a blended home. Personal worth, emotional stability and the levels of love in the home can be affected directly.

“Your worldview and perspective changes,” Swartz said when discussing the positives of a blended home. “When you mix with another family, there are other experiences, other perspectives and other rules that you will have to adapt your worldview to be more empathetic and more understanding.”

The perception of others can be immensely different. Riley shared how her adoption into a new family helped her perception of the world to become something more beautiful and positive compared to her life before adoption.

Avery Riley in her work environment.
Avery Riley in her work environment. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn
Avery Riley poses with her biological sister and adopted mom Photo Credit:
Avery Riley poses with her biological sister and adopted mom Image Credit: Brooke Ashley

“It made me realize life isn’t just about surviving,” Riley said. “It’s about growing and creating relationships, not just going day to day.”

Close-knit relationships teach us more about ourselves and others.

Family unity and accomplishments Photo Credit: Natalie Pedigo
Family unity and accomplishments Photo Credit: Natalie Pedigo via Unsplash
Sabrina finds solace in playing the piano when life gets overwhelming.
Sabrina finds solace in playing the piano when life gets overwhelming. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

“(When we) feel like we can celebrate the good times,” Riley stated, “we will be able to not only endure through the hard times but have fun in life, together.”

Avery Riley (left) and Sabrina Swartz (right)embrace their new friendship.
Avery Riley (left) and Sabrina Swartz (right)embrace their new friendship. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn